My Half-Elf House Rule

I just thought I’d quickly remind of you of my half-elf house rule, which I’ve borrowed from Unearthed Arcana. Basically, I find half-elves to be a little underpowered - perhaps deliberately so, since they are among the rarest of the core races. They’re basically humans, but get a few skill bonuses instead of a bonus skill point per level, and low-light vision with sleep immunity and +2 to saves against one school of magic. If you ask me, that’s not an optimal trade when you consider what that feat can buy.

I balance this weakness by giving the half-elf the extra skill point, as per the human - as it’s phrased, “4 extra skill points at 1st level and 1 extra skill point at each additional level.” The human is still a viable race in comparison because it’s the only core race to get a bonus feat at first level.

I consider this balance especially important in Eberron, where the half-elves are one of the more common races in the setting, with most being the descendents of other half-elves for several generations—such half-elves are known as khoravar, according to one of Keith Baker’s Dragonshards.


Comments (6)

TX (March 2nd, 2008)

If you take a glass of chocolate milk and a glass of regular milk, then mix them-what does it taste like? Dilluded! Mixed races in my opinion should collectively be less powerful than their whole parents.

Chris (March 24th, 2008)

Diluted. And no. In fact, genetically speaking, the melding of two differing and viable but compatible creatures should actually yield a stronger, better individual.

Now, in the case of magic and whatnot, not to mention game balance, this doesn’t necessarily hold true. But in this case, I’d agree that the half-elf getting a good piece of the human parents’ adaptability (skill points) as well as a reduced degree of the elven parents’ resistances and skill bonuses, without getting the feat or all of the elven bonuses, is a much more fair deal.

unique_stephen (June 15th, 2008)

two points -
!) Hybrid Vigor?
2) Elrond was a half elf

quidhala (October 21st, 2008)

@TX: Well if you mix chocolate milk and regular milk it will taste like milk with a hint of chocolate. So things that are the same stay the same, while things that are different will become weaker. You might want to test your analogies.

@unique stephen: I’m not sure what your points amount to or to whom they are addressed.

Personally all this half-elf, half-dragon, half-demigod(quartergod?) makes me sick (not in a racist way). It’s all the fault of meta gamers trying to get every power they can possibly have from the word “go”. I realize Tolkien talked about halfelven in his books. If your world is based on a creationist perspective where sex is a magical process in which any being can produce offspring with any other being (i.e. the Greek minotaur) it makes sense.

I prefer to use biology to make my worlds have some kind of sense to them. It’s not a race thing, because elves and humans aren’t different races, they are different species. I don’t believe in half-vulcans because it is to improbable that two species that developed on different planets could conceive any viable offspring.

When a horse is crossed with a donkey to make a mule, it is tough like a donkey with the larger size of a horse, though not quite as large. The great disadvantage of this cross in that the “mule” cannot usually produce viable offspring. As a world creator I might translate this into a cross of an elf and human. The offspring’s size will be somewhere between a human and an elf, with a reduced form of elven beneficial physiology and a reduced form of a human’s versatility. However, instead of sterility, the offspring will also have deformed ears that are considered unattractive by elves and humans.

That’s all just my opinion. It’s my world, so I’ll do as I please.

DaMoose (November 6th, 2008)

This debate has been going on since the mid-70’s and the last word has always been what you just said …. DM rules. In my own games I have usually made humans, elves, and hobbits (the kindred races) able to interbreed with viable offspring called, “halflings.” These same races when mixed with orcs (a foul construction produced long ago by an evil wizard magically melding elven blood with demonic icor.) produce sterile offspring called half-orcs. Since I don’t have to worry about Tolkien’s estate suing me for things said around my table, I don’t have to call hobbits anything but hobbits. Halflings get their share of acceptance and hatred from from all races, but are more often found attached to human cultures than to others. Halfings that are raised among the nonhuman races often excel in areas considered innate to that race. Halflings raised among humans often have hidden talents waiting to surface.

Nikobashtai (April 23rd, 2009)

@quidhala…the whole ‘evolved in far-flung solar-systems’ thingie was explained away with a previously existing species which traveled the stars and seeded the beginnings of all them core species of Star Trek…Vulcan, Human, Klingon…and I forget what else. It *may* be possible that they all all merely subspecies of something else…and they might, in most cases, produce sterile offspring (like horses and donkeys).

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